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My PRO team cycling weekend

February 25, 2010

I am not one of those lucky people who wins stuff. I don’t win bike races, free lunches or ebay auctions. But a few weeks ago, I won a CycleTo giveaway. Its weekly drawing is usually for socks, a musette or – if you’re lucky – an autographed jersey. But I scored a day riding with Team Vera Bradley Foundation (formerly ValueAct Capital Women’s Pro Cycling Team) at their pre-season camp in sunny San Jose, Calif.

Divine providence? Perhaps. As a rookie freelancer on the cycling news scene, trying to balance my passion and my real job, this is a huge chance for me to rub elbows, write stories, shoot video and take pictures. So even though I started the year with only three days of vacation, I took two. Four-hundred dollars worth of plane tickets, a new bike bag, a really cheap hotel and a bitch of a time renting a car (I’m under 25) later, I have a plan for a really exciting weekend.

Right now, I don’t know too much other than I get to join the team for a tour of Specialized headquarters on Friday, March 5 and ride with them the following day. I get to talk to whoever I want (including 2009 U.S. NRC points champion, Alison Powers), tag along in the team car, ride my bike and generally worm my way around amidst a group of kick-ass cycling women.

But like I said, I’m a rookie. My biggest goal is not to make a fool out of myself, so I am requesting suggestions for how to “hang” with a PRO team. Also, what questions would you like me to ask the team members? (If you are a guy, please don’t ask me if I can forward a marriage proposal.)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2010 2:27 pm

    Congratulations! This is terrific news. I hope you have a great time (and it’s ridiculous to think there’s any chance at all that you wouldn’t). I look forward to reading about the experience.

    Alas, I have no suggestions on how to hang with a PRO team, because they’d drop me before we reached the first turn.

  2. February 26, 2010 3:07 pm

    Looks like your luck has changed! As my Mom (or GF) would say first impressions matter. Remember sunglasses outside the helmet straps :)

    Seriously, I know you don’t favor full kits Sooooo what are you going to wear???

    Also, I saw Rebecca Skloots speak last night, As a young writer you might want to check her out as her tour heads west! Have a great time, can’t wait to read about it.

  3. Mellow Velo permalink
    February 26, 2010 3:27 pm

    Sunglasses outside the helmet straps: Check.
    First impression: Check.

    So when I show up to meet the team Thursday afternoon, do I wear my Castelli sweater, a Twin-Six T-shirt, a Fat Cyclist shirt, or do I take it easy on the cycling-themed clothing?

    As for kit, well, probably just wear my most comfortable stuff (that happens to match the colors of my bike).

    Thanks for the tip on Rebecca. I looked her up and realized that I have read and enjoyed her work in the NY Times magazine. That’s the funny thing about journalists; no one actually knows who you are, even if they love your writing.

    • February 26, 2010 4:37 pm

      Thursday Afternoon. Hmmmmmmmm. I’d go eclectic. If you go cycling theme, I think it has to be 100 times more obscure than fatty or Twin six. My GF brought back the perfect shirt from Italy for the meet and greet. Simple sketch of Leonardo DiVinci’s face and one of his bicycle drawings.

      The entire purpose is to lower all of the riders expectations of your skills. Then on Saturday towards the end of the ride, you have to smoke one of them. Doesn’t matter if she’s preoccupied with arm warmers, or adjusting a brake cable. Smoke her and then loudly proclaim, “My back’s finally starting to loosen up! Then immediately clutch at your hamstring ending any chance of retaliation(Reality?).

      Your best bet is to not take any of my advice :)

  4. February 26, 2010 4:57 pm

    Good point. Go with something sort-of cycling related, but obscure, as in “not a crowd follower.” Hmm. Is there time to go shopping before next Thursday? I’m going to a bike swap this weekend and maybe I’ll find something interesting there.

    Excellent suggestion to lower expectations. The problem is, when I talk my cycling down, I’m mostly telling the truth…

    • February 26, 2010 6:47 pm

      O.K. So You’re gonna probably score a complete kit once you get there.

      I’d research every sponser the team has because their reps will most likely be there. Can you say “More Swag?” or “We could use someone like you at HQ”.

      Practice phrases like:
      How do you like that Power Tap rear wheel? Really, I can have it?

      That aero helmet looks big on you let’s see if it fits me?

      Anybody mind if I take these carbon handlebars that FedEx just dropped off?

      When you get back tell us what Bike bag you bought and how you liked it. I’m gonna have to get one soon.

      Question to ask: I’d ask everyone how much wattage they produce and then go home and try to match it. But, that’s just me.

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